research project proposal

Roy Bridges (1885-1952) is Tasmania’s most prolific novelist, having published 36 novels. He lived with his sister, Hilda (1881-1971), who wrote 13 novels herself while acting as Roy’s amanuensis. Both were born in Hobart and formed a deep attachment to ‘Woods’, the family farm near Sorell.

In 1933, after working on the mainland as a journalist, Roy returned, somewhat unwillingly, to Tasmania, thereby keeping a promise he had made to his family. He remained at Woods until his death, battling anxiety and loneliness as he and Hilda tried to restore and protect the property.

My project is a study of the letters and manuscripts of Roy and Hilda Bridges, a collection of which is kept in the Tasmanian Archives. My topic is displacement, the state of being and feeling displaced, its origins, substance and legacy.

Roy and Hilda Bridges appear to have been, and to have felt, displaced. They struggled to find a home for themselves, reluctantly settling on the isolated and empty family farm; they felt at odds with their times, with the clamour of the city and the growing ugliness of the countryside. They were apparently unable, as well, to find a place in society, to conform to the gender conventions of the day. As writers, too, they failed to gain a toehold in the cultural tradition in which they worked, falling into literary obscurity after their deaths.

What did it mean to be and feel displaced in Tasmania in the first half of the twentieth century, and what effects did displacement have on individuals and on local society and culture at the time? These are questions I hope to start to answer and explore.

29 October 2020